Mocean's annual choreographic lab CLEaR Forum, Photo by Kevin MacCormack

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Notes from the Trilogy Project Deep Freeze Tour 2013

Driving back to Fredericton after the Halifax shows we are wowed by the spread in the Telegraph-Journal about Lesandra's process and the show. The piece was written by Kate Wallace who spent a day with us in the studio a few weeks back when we were in rehearsal. She really got at the heart of the the work (the creative nucleus as she put it) and it was the perfect set-up for the hometown show. Lesandra has recently taken a big role in Fredericton as Executive Director of the Charlotte Street Arts Centre, and the impact of her vision and gusto for dance and arts in palpalable in the community, who came out with bubbling anticipation for the Jan. 23rd show.

The playhouse was a beautiful setting for the three pieces, more formal than the Dunn in Halifax, but also more intimate, with the red seats curving around hugging the stage. While performing I could feel the warmth and attention radiating from the house. A very sensitive yet electric exchange with the audience occurred, as Lesandra peered on from backstage, not wanting to sit in the house. 
It was so nice to be able to share Lesandra's work with this community, which she has become a part of in the last seven or so years. 

Her blameless mystery was particularly special for me to perform in Fredericton since it was made there in 2010, in the winter, with many images, such as this image of the frozen Saint John River, and wartime housing in Minto, taken from the Fredericton area. It was also the first time our collaborator, film maker Chris Giles, got to see the work on the stage. 

After my icy solo, Ric & Darryl warm-up the stage with their desert duet
The boys duet, In two days a man can change, was a hit in Fredericton, with Darryl and Ric taking their dancing, taunting and hilarity to another level, and the audience right there with them.
L to R: Susanne Chui, Chris Giles, Lesandra Dodson, Ric Brown, Hannah Burrows, Darryl Tracy, Vicky Williams

We said goodbye to our amazing technical duo, Vicky Williams, lighting designer who really brought the works to life, and Hannah Burrows who did an incredible job learning the million and one sound, light and video cues while also making us feel completely taken care of every step of the way.

Then it was off to Winnipeg, with Darryl steeping in as props coordinator, making sure the rugs made it safe and sound.

Darryl (despite the late night and jet-lag) taught an early morning class to a stellar groups of young dancers at the School of Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers, who really know how to move! Smiles and laughs filled the room. 
We arrived in Lesandra's old stomping ground; having gone to the school herself and danced with the company, this performance was another kind of homecoming for her. It was so nice to finish the tour here, in the intimacy of the Rachel Browne Theatre, surrounded by old friends and fans of Lesandra, who know her work well. It was also the first time that Christine Fellows saw A leash for two hounds performed with the final music which she composed for the work. We were worried at first with the changes we made, but Christine was very pleased, shining a great big smile from the seats every night. Opening night we were washed with a wave of applause and a standing ovation from the Winnipeg audience. With the pieces, and our performances having become richer and more nuanced over the tour, it was so great to finish on this note. 
Outside the theatre

Inside the Rachel Browne Theatre
The Winnipeg version of the poster
In the lobby was a retrospective of Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers, and who else did we find than a young whipper snapper L. Dodson.

Darryl stays warm on the streets of Winterpeg

The best coffee in town that kept us going during our long tech days

Ric gets inspired

Another fantastic tech team in Winnipeg, with the presenter Brent Lott stepping in to call the show. 

Thank you to all who made this a very fun, fulfilling and memorable tour.  So long from the Trilogy team!

'Till next time, 

Monday, 21 January 2013

Subtle Shifts

Photo: Lesandra Dodson
After a whirlwind of activity last week, culminating to three performances in Halifax, the team has returned to Freddy to get ready for the next leg of our journey.

As the dust settles, a few moments from the past week remain with me.

photo: Holly Crooks
On Friday night the audience shared the experience of being blasted with a cold wind as the curtains opened in the theatre. Intentional or not, the cold wind set the mood for a piece about freezing and thawing, Lesandra and others in the house breathing shallowly with me as my limbs 'loose their stifness' and I begin to 'show signs of life.' As I performed the opening part of Her blameless mystery, I was acutely aware of the silence and of the sound of my breath as it cut through the darkness.

Out for drinks after one of the shows two friends shared their interpretation of A leash for two hounds. For one (a man not currently in a relationship) it was about a new relationship, one of uncertainty, of coming and going, not sure whether to stay or to go. For the other (a married woman with a family) it was about the dynamic and power struggles of a seasoned couple, each with their own idiosyncrasies, and boundaries, a push and pull towards and away from the familiar. These two interpretations remind me that what one sees in a piece is a reflection of ones own experiences, and that it is just as valuable to notice what you see, as it is to know what the choreographer intended.
Darryl Tracy & Susanne Chui. Photo: Holly Crooks

(one person had completely different interpretation of the relationship of Darryl and I in the duet - they saw me as a carpet salesman, and Darryl as a ghost!).
Darryl Tracy & Ric Brown
Photo: Holly Crooks

Lesandra leaves space for the audience to enter the work, not dictating one meaning over another. And she gives the dancers this freedom as well. On Friday night the duet had a joyful feel for me, with playful teasing and a warmth between Darryl and I. On Saturday (after some new direction from Lesandra) I entered the work more reserved, more neutral, allowing the actions to be cooler and more matter of fact. With just this subtle shift of intention, everything felt different and the relationship changed.

Photo: L. Dodson
We move into the Fredericton Playhouse tomorrow, a big shift from the black box of the Sir James Dunn Theatre. I'm looking forward to seeing how this new frame, and a new audience, will further transform the works; what will be revealed, what will be lost, and what new things will emerge.

- Susanne

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

In two days a piece can change

The Team: Lesandra, Ric, Darryl and I 
Back in the studio with Team Dodson! Darryl Tracy, Ric Brown and I are in Fredericton, NB, at the beautiful Charlotte Street Arts Centre,  working with one of my absolute favourite choreographers, Lesandra Dodson. We are getting ready for The Trilogy Project, an evening of Lesandra's work being presented next week by Live Art Dance Productions, with a mini tour to the Fredericton Playhouse and Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers (aptly nicknamed the 'deep freeze tour').

It has been so lovely revisiting the pieces. After all the work that has gone into making these pieces over the past 3 years, and all the planning, grant writing, etc. to get us to this point, we are all feeling very proud, excited and grateful to finally be here.

 Two of the pieces are older works, a duet for Ric and Darryl called In two days a man can change,  a solo (or duet depending on how you look at it) that Lesandra and I created in 2010 called Her blameless mystery, and a brand new duet for Darryl and I commissioned by Mocean, called A leash for two hounds. (Doesn't Lesandra choose the best titles?).

Lesandra shows the boys how it's done
Each work is completely different but they all carry the signature Dodson style - detailed, fast paced, multi-layered collages of movement, text, sound, video, infused with breath, quirkiness, absurdity and a wholly unique sensibility of the profound oddities of life! She creates worlds from which colourful characters emerge, and it is so much fun to play in these worlds.

Rehearsals have been flying by, as we begin to recover, remember, rebuild, and re-imagine the pieces. Like taking out your good silver and buffing off the tarnish to reveal the shine, Lesandra is working us hard to find the essence of the pieces and bring them to life. Everyday we dig a little deeper and we have the sore muscles to prove it.

- Susanne Chui

The Trilogy Project Tour Dates:
- Jan 17-19, 8PM at the Sir James Dunn Theatre, presented by Live Art Dance Productions 
- Jan 23, 7:30PM at the Fredericton Playhouse
(Join us for an open dress rehearsal 2-5PM on Jan. 22)
- Jan. 26, 8PM & 27, 3PM at the Rachel Browne Theatre, presented by Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers